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Peer to Peer Blog > Interview with Kristina Wong

Interview with Kristina Wong

posted on May 7, 2013
Kristina Wong is an solo performer, writer and cultural commentator named “One of the Seven Funniest Eco-Comedians” by Mother Nature Network. She’s created five solo shows and one ensemble play that have toured all over the world at places that include the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, the Public Theater, REDCAT, Mark Taper Forum, La MaMa ETC, the Comedy Central Stage among dozens of others.
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Tell me about your artistic practice. What is your artist statement?

My body of work has spanned five full-length solo shows I’ve written and performed, one ensemble play, guerilla performances on the web and in public places.  I have written commentaries for American Public Media’s Marketplace Radio, PBS, Playgirl Magazine and xoJane.  Most of my livelihood comes from touring my shows nationally to universities, theaters and festivals, and doing artist residencies with different communities. Creative support for some of my recent work has come from state and national arts grants.

I believe that as an artist, my job is not to “fix” the wrongs of the world with easy answers, but instead, to further complicate the question by making the invisible—visible, and hopefully, creating some space for public discourse. I would describe my aesthetic at its best as subversive, humorous, and endearingly inappropriate.

How would you describe your career trajectory? What major challenges did you face to get where you are today and how did you confront those challenges?

Out of college, I was surviving on $1200 a month from working full time hours doing arts admin and teaching. I didn’t have enough money to enroll in an acting or writing program so I took free City of Los Angeles DCA Artist-in-Residence Workshops with artists like Denise Uyehara and Danielle Brazell. This is where the seeds of my first shows came from. My undergraduate college project was a fake mail order bride site called www.bigbadchinesemama.com. Eager to make a name for myself, I invited myself to give talks to university classes that were teaching my website in their syllabi. These were the first credits on my CV.  Soon I leveraged those college connections towards performances of my work at those schools.
 
The catalyst moment was creating “Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” – a show featuring the high rates of depression and suicide among Asian American women- with the support of a Creative Capital Grant in 2006.In the last seven years, the show has played over 40 venues. In 2010, I signed onto the management roster of Circuit Network whose clients include Culture Clash and previously, Guillermo Gomez Pena.  Three years ago, I bought a loft in Koreatown. I’ve made two show since Cuckoo’s Nest.  Now I tour internationally.
 
Most of my time is spent in front of a computer writing grant proposals, courting presenters and coordinating a lot of production and administration.  I’m now in the process of transitioning from non-stop touring to finding ways that my career can be more generative, more sustainable, and with more residual effects.  

• Please describe the activity for which you received CCF Quick Grant funding. Why did you want to do it? What did you or your organization gain/learn from that experience?

When I used the grant to hire consultant Terry Wolverton for five sessions, I was burnt out from touring. I was out of ideas for new shows and getting scared about sustaining myself for the next ten years.   While I didn’t discover “the answer,we made a few major breakthroughs.  She pointed out that rather than serving my long-term goals,  I maybe overloading myself with projects to “look busy”..  Now I choose projects because I am truly passionate about them or because they will allow me to have creative output.  It was pivotal to have this help in clearing the noise from my life so I could make better decisions moving forward.
 

• What professional development opportunities do you want/need next? Why?

I’d like better financial literacy training for managing my business income and information on where to best invest my money.  For some reason, they don’t teach that in art classes and it benefits no artist en route to being happier and healthier.  Having more mentors in my field would be also be invaluable now. I wish I could say there were more examples of more people in my field who are able to sustain themselves in their arts practice, have families, self-care and maintain mortgage payments past 40. Currently, there aren’t.

• What advise/direction do you wish someone had given you when you embarked on your career?
I wish I had learned better time management skills earlier on.  Time management, cutting out the BS (bad relationships and time wasting activities) and staying motivated despite all odds will make the longevity of an artist.


Kristina Wong is an solo performer, writer and cultural commentator named “One of the Seven Funniest Eco-Comedians” by Mother Nature Network. She’s created five solo shows and one ensemble play that have toured all over the world at places that include the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, the Public Theater, REDCAT, Mark Taper Forum, La MaMa ETC,  the Comedy Central Stage among dozens of others.  Her most notable touring show– “Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” looked at the high rates of depression and suicide among Asian American women and toured to over 40 venues since 2006. It’s now a broadcast quality DVD that has been acquired by university libraries nationwide and is also available for home use at Amazon.

website:  
www.kristinawong.com

Peer to Peer made possible in part by support from the City of Los Angeles, Department of Cultural Affairs.